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Joanna noticed his preoccupation. "What is the matter?" she asked.

The caboclo scratched his head and made no reply. The woman insisted. "What is the trouble, Tiburcio?"

"The pigeons have taken a whim into their heads, Joanna."

"And you are lost in the contemplation of it? I have not cared to speak, but I know well the meaning of what I see."

The caboclo slung the spade across his shoulder and walked slowly up the road that led to the plantation, through the wet hay which exhaled a piquant odor.

Some hens were clucking, hidden in the high grass, and a little ribbon of water which flowed gently along sparkled here and there through the openings in the brushwood.

Tiburcio, head bowed, spade on his shoulder, could not shake off the deep impression that had been made upon him by the sudden migration of the birds.

It was the fatal sign.

To be sure, he had heard the owl's screech for many and many a night; but he had seen no cause for fear in this: everything was going along nicely; their little son was in good health and they, too, knew no illness. But now the warning of the evil omen was